Here are 10 trivia facts about Halloween from 1978, which originally appeared as our Mystery Movie Quiz on our Facebook page. There are hundreds of pieces of behind-the-scenes information about this movie. Please feel free to comment and add more trivia we might have missed.
1. This was an independent production after big studios turned it down.
When John Carpenter and Debra Hill co-wrote the original story for producers Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad (it was then called “The Babysitter Murders”), big Hollywood studios didn’t display any interest in the film’s distribution. At that time, it was decided that Yablans would use his own production company, Compass International, to distribute the film with financing from Akkad. After the film’s rousing success, MCA/Universal came on board and produced the next two movies in the franchise; but Carpenter, although involved in the sequels, only directed the original.
2. The director also wrote the screenplay and has a cameo in the film.
As with his earlier efforts Dark Star (1974), which he co-wrote with Dan O’Bannon, and Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), John Carpenter had a hand in the scripting of Halloween, working with longtime collaborator Debra Hill. The filmmaker also suppiled an uncredited voice in the chiller.
Fans of Halloween and movie reviewers have said that its eerie musical score is another factor in the film’s success. Well, guess what? The music was written by none other than Carpenter! Having written numerous scores, when the jack-of-all-trades Carpenter was once being interviewed, he said, “I can play just about any keyboard, but I can’t read or write a note.”
3. This movie was the female lead’s film debut.
Jamie Lee Curtis had been doing television for a few years when she got her big break in 1978. John Carpenter admitted in an interview that he really wanted June Lockhart’s daughter, Anne, to play Laurie Strode, confiding that Curtis was not his first pick for the screaming teen. He softened when he realized that Janet Leigh was Jamie Lee’s mother and said, “I knew casting Jamie Lee would be great publicity for the film because her mother was in Psycho.”
4. A number of deaths occur in the movie.
Officially the body count is listed as five murders…but let’s not forget, Michael also killed two dogs.
5. The film is based around a holiday.
Although, since the 19th century, Halloween has become less of a religious observance, All Hollow’s Eve (or All Saint’s Eve) is still considered as such by many Christians. There are those, however, who believe that this holiday is deeply rooted in paganism, and very closely related to the worship of Satan, making John Carpenter’s Halloween an ideal “horror” movie.
The original story was supposed to have taken place over a period of several days, but each additional day in the storyline meant more wardrobe and location changes, so it was basically a decision based on financial concerns when producer Yablans suggested changing the story to revolve around Halloween. First, because it is well known as the year’s scariest night. And also, by filming it all in that time frame, he was able to get the local townspeople to join in the fun as extras by dressing their kids in costumes and walking the streets with their families. The name change from “The Babysitter Murders” to “Halloween” was a natural.
6. Two of the actors played the same roles in other movies.
Donald Pleasence, as psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis, played his role five times. He returned for Halloween II in 1981; then again in 1988′s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers in 1989; and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers in 1995 (his next-to-last screen appearance). Oddly enough, this was not Pleasence’s only experience playing someone named “Loomis.” In 1972′s Innocent Bystanders he was just “Loomis” and he popped up in Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (1987) as “Father Loomis.”
Jamie Lee Curtis also appeared in Halloween II; had an uncredited voice part in 1982′s Halloween III: Season of the Witch (although not a Michael Myers movie); and returned as Laurie Strode in 1998 with Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Her final turn in the franchise came with Halloween: Resurrection in 2002, which she agreed to do so as to give a proper send-off to the heroine who launched her big-screen career.
7. One of the characters in the film is a psychiatrist.
Donald Pleasence took the part in Halloween expecting to work for only four or five days, which is exactly how it turned. After the final cuts, he appears on screen for less than 18 minutes, yet gets top billing. His stint as Dr. Sam Loomis in Halloween was not the first time Pleasence played a man of medicine. He was cast as a doctor in films and TV more than 10 times, including as the murderous Dr. Crippen in 1964 and as Dr. Michaels in the 1966 sci-fi saga Fantastic Voyage.
8. One of the stars came from an acting family.
Jamie Lee Curtis’ parents, Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, both had successful Hollywood careers, together and apart. Her mother’s famous shower scene in Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller, Psycho, may have provided Jamie Lee with insight into how to become Tinseltown’s reigning “scream queen.”
9. The movie’s budget was under $350k.
The cost of producing Halloween was about $320,000 and the thriller was shot in 21 days. Showing just how low the film’s budget was, half of the money was designated for purchasing Panavision cameras to ensure the film’s ratio of 2:35:1. In the United States it grossed $47 million, and it took in $60 million worldwide. Those numbers seem small by 2011 standards, but adjusting for inflation since 1978, those totals equal about $205 million, making it one of the most profitable independent productions of all time.
The budget was strictly adhered to in filming Halloween. Most of the cast members wore their own street clothes and Jamie Lee Curtis bought her wardrobe in J.C. Penney’s for under $100. The best bargain was found by the prop department when they went looking for the lowest-priced mask they could find and came back with a William Shatner Star Trek mask. They reworked the hair, enlarged the eye cutouts and spray-painted it white. Shatner had no idea his likeness appeared in the movie and, once he learned about it, has since said he was honored.
10. The movie spawned a continuing film franchise.
Much like the character of Michael Myers, you can’t keep the Halloween series down for very long. The success of John Carpenter’s original fright fave was followed by Halloween II in 1981; the unrelated Halloween III: Season of the Witch the following year; Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988); Halloween 5 (1989); Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995); Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998); and Halloween: Resurrection in 2002. There was also a remake in 2007 directed by Rob Zombie titled Halloween, followed two years later by its own sequel, similarly dubbed Halloween II. Carpenter didn’t return to direct any of the sequels, but he was involved in writing screenplays and musical scores.
And now, step back in time and enjoy the 1978 theatrical trailer for Halloween: